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NVIDIA vs. 3Dfx - TNT vs. the Voodoos

Quake 2 Benchmark Results

I certainly don't play many games, simply due to time restrain, but Quake 2 has gotten me and thus I am playing 1-2 hours online each day. I'm also the proud member [F3] T-Bone of the clan F3 (Fanatic Frag Freaks ). Thus I reckon myself as pretty experienced about what really counts for a Quake 2 player. I know that the taste for weapons is widely spread amongst the Q2 players and whilst the majority seems to love the Rocket Launcher, I love the Railgun. This weapon is one of the most powerful in experienced hands, but it asks for two important things. A good ping and a high screen resolution. The Railgun is an excellent sniper weapon and at a high resolution you can kill enemies at large distances who may not even see you. You can also aim a lot more smoothly with a higher resolution, so for me screen resolution is the way to go.

I don't see any reason for playing Quake2 at 640x480 anymore since the days of Voodoo2 and TNT. It is advisable to play at the highest screen resolution you can get, as long as the frame rate is acceptable. Now here the discussion comes in. What is acceptable? Many Q2 players will answer '40-50+ fps is what it takes'. This is of course incorrect. A sustained frame rate of 25-30 fps would actually do, it may never ever drop below 25 though, because that would cause game play restrictions. The different fps values that people are talking about come from different benchmarking demos for Q2. There is the pretty useless built in 'demo1.dm2' or 'demo2.dm2', or some more demos included into 'Reckoning', the Q2 mission CD. Then there are the two larger demos recorded from the Q2 benchmarking Guru Brett '3 Fingers' Jacobs, which are 'massive1.dm2' and 'crusher.dm2'. You may remember what I said in the introduction, we shouldn't care less about 'average frame rate', we want to know the worst case scenario of a 3D card. As long as this is above a decent level, we don't have to worry anymore. Now unfortunately Q2 tells us only the average frame rate from a benchmarking demo, no maximum, no minimum. Luckily did Brett help us out here. He had the idea of putting 3D cards through tougher tests by recording a demo with a huge amount of explosions and light weapons, so he recorded 'crusher.dm2'. I never used this demo so far, because in reality it's a perfect CPU benchmark. The CPU rather than the 3D card do the transform and lighting and 'crusher' is asking for the last bit of CPU performance. This is what makes it so great though. 'Crusher' can be seen as the worst case scenario in Quake2. You will hardly ever be in a death match with so many rockets, hyperblaster, BFG and Railgun shots flying around you, or if you should, you may not stay alive for long. Using 'crusher.dm2' shows how bad the frame rate can get. I claim that you can run Q2 just fine as long as your 'crusher.dm2' result is above 25 fps. Now what we really want to know is how far can we go up with the resolution whilst keeping a good result in crusher.dm2.

Running Quake 2 3.19 With 3Dnow! Enabled

Owners of AMD's K6-2 CPUs are always a bit in trouble if they want to play Q2 online. 99% of the available Q2 servers are running the latest Q2 patches as soon as they become available. The 3Dnow! Patches for those Q2 upgrades can often take 4-6 weeks and so no K6-2 owner can play online Q2 in this time, which really sucks.

I tried finding a way around that, because I wanted to benchmark all CPUs with the same Q2 version. To run Q2 3.19 with 3Dnow! enabled you don't have to do much at all. Simply copy the file 3dfxglam.dll as 3dfxgl.dll and ref_glam.dll as ref_gl.dll into the Quake 2 base directory, replacing the original drivers (rename them to keep them). Now 3Dnow! is enabled each time you either run a 3Dfx card with the 3Dfx OpenGL driver or e.g. TNT with the default OpenGL driver. There is one little problem though. The ref_glam.dll would not let you disable dynamic lighting (gl_dynamic 0). It just ignores this command and you won't get the performance increase unless you enable flash blend (gl_flashblend 1), which for some reason does finally switch off dynamic lighting in the default OpenGL 3DNow! driver ver. 3.17. You should rather use the original ref_gl.dll with K6-2 in case you want to benefit from the performance increase achieved by disabling dynamic lighting and don't want to have the stupid effect of flash blend.

  • Pure nostalgia. Tom's Hardware is awesome for keeping 14 year old articles around, I read the whole thing and it brought back memories.
  • xkm1948
    Ahh now this brings back some old memories.